“We look for true partnerships as a vehicle to communicate with passionate fans who identify with the team and with us. The best partners work hand-in-hand with us to measure and report how we are doing to reach our KPIs. Recaps and impression counts are not enough. We want to know if fans trust us, see us as distinct from the competition and, ultimately, do more of their banking with us because of the partnership.” ~Paul Clark, Regional President, PNC Bank


How do Partner Lift Metrics Work?

Partner lift is the percentage increase in the brand's KPI's (regard, relevance, differentiation, trust, preference, usage and brand-supportive actions) among fans reached by the property's assets compared to (a) those fans not reached, (b) non-fans, (c) competing brands and (d) previous time periods.Brands want fan passion to lift the brand KPIs higher on all accounts.

Cleveland Browns Case Study

Brent Stehlik and Randy Domain initiated an authentic partnership approach with brands to achieve and measure key performance indicators. The Browns corporate salespeople work with partners to understand brand objectives and actionable consequences (e.g., visit the store, follow on social media, remain loyal, visit website, membership in points club, etc.). These KPIs and actions are benchmarked before each season. Postseason measures provide the brand lift received from using the communication channels the team provides to partners.

Partner Lift Compared to Unreached

True fans remain passionate whether the team wins or loses. They find different reasons--love of the sport, star players, socialization--to identify with the team in down years.1Winning reinforces fan passion and adds fair weather fans. Passionate fans are the target for brands, because they are there win or lose. They associate brand partners with the team. Fair weather fans don't notice much. They are just like the fans who attend or watch, but don't pay much attention to the game, the team or their partners. Colin Faulkner notes that passionate fans credit brands as authentic fans themselves when they are there with them during lean years--and then receive full credit when the team wins like the Cubs did.

Below we see the average lift for 24 partners of the Cleveland Browns for the 2016 season. As the Browns reach more fans through the channels of communication they offer partners, the greater the KPIs. Prominent brand partners are already highly regarded. The greatest lift is in brand differentiation, trust, usage and preference. [Scores are based on representative samples of 5,000+ members of the Browns fan base.]

Compared to Non-fans and Competitors Over Time

Brands and teams do no operate in a vacuum. Brands execute national and regional campaigns to reach a broader audience. Does the partnership deliver on the KPIs compared to the brand's other efforts? To know this, we track the same KPIs and actions among a representative sample of non-fans in the DMA.

Competing brands often sponsor one or more of the other properties in the same DMA. Competitors covet the same upscale fan base the team delivers. Competitors execute ambush marketing campaigns via broadcast and digital media. If Papa John's seeks to increase store traffic on game day, so does Domino's and Pizza Hut. Does the partnership deliver a strategic competitive advantage?

Similar to the scores of other studies conducted over the last 15 years, we see partners experience a huge lift compared to the general population (upper left). Notwithstanding the team record in 2016, partners continue to experience a strong lift compared to non-fans. Across all 24 partners matched with 24 direct competitors (upper right), partners achieve results in a similar pattern. When we examine the lift effects over two years, the biggest gains are in the most important KPIs: Differentiation, Usage and Preference. These results point to the importance of multi-year partnership deals.


Use of Marks

Properties often limit the use of the team's marks to provide a key point of differentiation for those willing to activate the brand around its association with the team. The use of the team's logo and marks is one of the most powerful ways to signal to passionate fans their commitment to the team they love. As the spider graph shows below, all KPIs increase with the use of marks, but the strongest effects acrue for brand preference and usage--hitting the bottom line for partners.


Brands and team partners increase effectiveness as they reach more fans through more channels of communication. Multimedia learning theory indicates we learn best through active engagement via multiple channels over time. Consumers recall little from a single message from a single channel.2The most effective partners execute a strategic plan to activate the brand via multiple channels to achieve brand KPIs.

The video below explains the background for the metrics in more detail.

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Special thanks to Joe Moeller, Erica Mangino, Linwood Jones, Nick Barton and David Giller for their analytical skills!